The New York Times ran a special report on Sunday that focused on the accidental shootings of children. According to the article, a “review of hundreds of child firearm deaths found that accidental shootings occurred roughly twice as often as the records indicate, because of the idiosyncrasies in how such deaths are classified by the authorities.”
A piece of long-form journalism, the essay detailed individual cases of child-shootings, but rather than being listed as “accidental deaths,” they were classified as homicides or suicides by the respective medical examiners. This is relevant in the debate about “safe storage,” which has often received vocal opposition from the National Rifle Association or NRA, whose position is that an unattended weapon is just as dangerous as unattended poisons, falling, or a number of “other factors” in the home.
The NRA maintains that the shooting deaths of children are often perpetrated by criminal adults mishandling firearms, often illegal. While NRA leader Wayne LaPierre often says outrageous things in defense of legal gun owners, this does not mean that he and his group are completely wrong about everything.
In this case “mishandling firearms” is most certainly the cause of the vast majority of accidental shooting deaths, whether the victims be children or adults. One such case details a father who was trying to teach his 3 year-old to “respect firearms” by giving him a .22 rifle for Christmas and ensuring that he knew only to fire it when adults were present. However, one day he took his pistol, which he normally kept secured, under the couch. The boy went after it and accidentally shot himself.
Still, the point of the essay is just to reevaluate just how these deaths are catalogued and calling into question what we think we know about accidental shooting deaths in America.